There’s a memorable gag from the (unfortunately revived) Arrested Development that goes like this: A character sees a brown paper bag labeled “dead dove, do not eat,” opens the bag anyway, reacts in disgust, and then remarks, “I don’t know what I expected.” It’s a pretty good approximation of how the bone hurting juice anti-meme that exploded in popularity over the weekend functions.
All you need to know is that this extremely fictional beverage tastes good, and it makes your bones hurt. What did you think “bone hurting juice” would do?
According to the internet ephemera scholars at Know Your Meme, the first instance of “bone hurting juice” was an edit of the Sweet Jesus Pooh meme which was added to Facebook page Fun Silly Drawings for Fun Silly People Haha, one of the many “weird Facebook” pages that traffics in thickly layered irony and deep historical knowledge of internet humor. Though that post dates back to July, Tumblr latched onto the phrase this weekend for reasons unknowable. Given the site’s predilection for bone-related jokes (such as the fictional skeleton war or the not-entirely-fictional bone stealing witch), Tumblr provided an ideal environment for bone hurting juice to enter mass production.
So far, edits referencing bone hurting juice have been applied to earlier memes like they crave that mineral, the Oh Joy Sex Toy comic explaining what a “cuck” is, the deathless loss.jpg macro from webcomic CTRL+ALT+DEL, Spotify playlists, Star Wars prequel edits, and fake VICE headlines.
I’ll be the first to admit bone hurting juice is stupid and not likely to have much staying power. Reddit’s unofficial meme market r/memeeconomy has recommended to “invest cautiously” and, for fuck’s sake, it’s already been co-opted by
methamphetamine hostel diner chain Denny’s.
But, like many of the best memes, it does indirectly illuminate something larger: humanity’s incredible capacity to act against its best interests, especially for something momentarily pleasurable. At the risk of over-analyzing a fictional drink that causes bone pain but “tastes so good,” the meme can be an analog for drug abuse, needless consumerism, intolerance, or any number of other dipshit behaviors we engage in regularly. At its best, bone hurting juice is a lens for understanding our own absurd stupidity and excess.
Call it needless philosophizing, but at a time when the political far-right considers memes a form of cultural warfare, bone hurting juice is refreshingly simple and dumb, free from the baggage of weaponized ideas designed for insurgent Twitter campaigns.
Maybe neither of those interpretations work for you. In which case, god, you’re awfully picky, and you probably think this meme sucks. And you’re probably right! Hope you and your bones stay pain-free.